International fraudsters have launched £ 70million money laundering scheme

Two men who ran an international criminal ring responsible for laundering £ 70million, including £ 10million from fraudulent Bounce Back loans, have been jailed for a total of 33 years.

Artem Terzyan, 38, of Russia, and Deivis Grochiatskij, 44, of Lithuania, were the subject of a four-year investigation by the Organized Crime Partnership – a joint unit of the National Anti-Crime Agency. crime and the Metropolitan Police Department.

Their sentences are believed to be among the heaviest ever for money laundering in the UK.

The OCP investigation began in October 2017 when surveillance officers saw Auriel Zylyfi place a large bag of cash in an Audi at a money counting house in northwest London.

A month later another man, Artur Terziu, was seen handing over £ 40,000 to Zylyfi in the underground car park of his apartment in Hazlemere Court, Hendon. The two men were arrested and each sentenced to one year in prison.

OCP agents raided Zylyfi’s apartment and seized a ledger detailing money laundering transactions over £ 7million over a four-month period.

Over the next seven months, the same Audi traveled extensively across the UK, stopping briefly at truck fleets and gas stations to collect money before returning to London.

He was regularly taken to Munning House in Docklands, east London, where Terzyan and Grochiatskij both lived in apartments adjacent to each other. On several occasions, OCP officers saw large bags of money getting out of the car and entering Munning House.

The pair were also seen, along with other members of their criminal network, opening bank accounts at banks across London on behalf of the various bogus companies they had set up and then depositing tens of thousands of pounds in these accounts at once.

The money would be sent from one shell company to another in a complex network of transfers, before being sent to international accounts held in countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong. and Singapore.

On June 26, 2018, OCP agents arrested Terzyan and Grochiatskij at Munning House and searched their two apartments.

They seized several large handwritten books with Terzyan’s fingerprints, which detailed the huge sums of money laundered. An encrypted phone, bank cards and the contact details of the fake companies they had created were also recovered from his apartment.

Grochiatskij’s computer was seized from his apartment. On it, agents found details of bank accounts the couple used for money laundering and various incriminating photos of their associates handling money in the Grochiatskij living room.

Another photo showed a safe containing a huge pile of money. In the same photo was a notepad that bore the address of a business unit near Waterfront Studios on Dock Road.

Investigators recovered CCTV footage showing the two men delivering the safe to the unit on February 23, 2018. However, when it was searched 8 months later, the money had already been withdrawn.

Measuring the dimensions of the safe showed that the amount of cash seen in the photo could have reached £ 3million.

A financial investigator analyzed hundreds of bank accounts controlled by Terzyan and Grochiatskij and was able to prove that the men laundered a total of £ 36million in 2017-18, of which £ 16million came from cash deposits.

While on bail, the couple began tapping into the government’s Covid-19 support program by claiming fraudulent rebound loans (BBLs) for the various shell companies they had created.

They have claimed up to £ 50,000 at a time, generating over £ 10million in total. £ 3.2million has been claimed from a single UK bank.

On top of that, they continued to launder criminal money using the same method as before. Between June 2018 and November 2020, when the couple were arrested again, they laundered an additional £ 34million, including the £ 10million generated by BBLs.

Terzyan and Grochiatskij have each been charged with two counts of money laundering, for which they were convicted after a seven-week trial in September 2021.

Earlier this month, at Kingston Crown Court, Terzyan was sentenced to 17 years in prison and Grochiatskij to 16 years.

Details can now only be released after the reporting restrictions that were previously in place have been lifted.

Upon sentencing the two men, HHJ Shetty noted that their exploitation of the BBL scheme played a role in “the weakening of government and financial institutions” and that “the UK taxpayer will be stunned and upset that a part of its hard-earned tax contributions went into the pockets of criminals.

Andy Tickner, of the Organized Crime Partnership, said: “It was a thorough and complex investigation in which the team analyzed tons of financial and transaction data.

‘Ultimately, the case proved that these two had a sophisticated large-scale money laundering system in place that enabled them to transfer £ 70million of criminal money out of the UK- United.

“They did this by creating hundreds of bogus companies and using an international network of criminals under their control.

‘To top it off, they have stolen more than £ 10million from UK taxpayers in what is considered one of the biggest Bounce Back loan frauds since the program was introduced in 2020.

“These men and their network played a vital role in allowing other criminals to conceal and access their illicit income. The removal of this service has been a blow to organized criminals in the UK and around the world. “

The financial investigation of the two men is still ongoing. So far, OCP has secured freeze orders on four bank accounts which contained around £ 180,000 in total. Of this amount, £ 17,000.00 was confiscated as it was deemed to be recoverable property.

23 December 2021

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